Headline: Jason Thresher Captures 107th Massachusetts Open Championship Title at Worcester Country Club; Prevails Following a Three-Hole Aggregate Playoff With Mark Stevens

For Immediate Release: June 15, 2016

Jason Thresher captured the 107th MGA Open Championship title at Worcester CC; Matt Hutchins (below) was the low amateur.

Worcester, Mass. — It was a longer wire-to-wire victory than he expected, but the result was just as sweet for Jason Thresher (West Suffield, CT).

Following a three-hole aggregate playoff against Mark Stevens (Pembroke, NH) at Worcester Country Club on Wednesday, Thresher captured his first major professional title - the 107th Massachusetts Open Championship.

The site was Worcester Country Club and the winner’s check was worth $15,000. He becomes the seventh individual to capture the Clarence G. Cochrane Memorial Trophy at Worcester CC since the event was introduced in 1903.

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107th MGA Open Day 3 Quick Links

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“I heard the name Byron Nelson and I didn’t hear anything after that,” said Thresher, who was clearly emotional when asked about the significance of winning a trophy that has been captured by golf legends such as Nelson, Donald Ross, Walter Hagen, Francis Ouimet and Gene Sarazen, to name just a few.

Thresher joins the esteemed company of the following individuals who won this title in Worcester: Jesse P. Guilford (1919); Donald Vinton (1926); Wiffy Cox (1931); Byron Nelson (1939); Jim Browning (1953); and Paul Barkhouse (1976).

“This is the next big step for me,” said Thresher, who is 27 years old. “I have been close. The closest I was was last year when I was tied for third and in contention on the back nine.”

The road to victory was a strong but eventful one for Thresher. He held a one-stroke lead following round one and round two after posting scores of 3-under par 67 (Monday) and 1-under par 69 (Tuesday).

The start of his third round did not begin as expected. He was 3-over par through his first three holes after suffering a double bogey and bogey. After two rounds of stellar play, his lead had disappeared.

“It was a couple of bad shots and compounded errors and then I three putted the green and missed a two footer,” said Thresher. “On the next hole, I had a pretty decent tee shot and a decent look at birdie, but I wasn’t paying attention to the speed after the last hole and blew it by and missed it coming back for another three putt.”

That would be the final miscue for Thresher who played 3-under par golf through his final 15 holes. He made birdie on the 5th hole and made what was perhaps the shot of the week on the 410-yard, par 4 7th hole.

His drive sailed right and his second shot – which he had to hit under an overhanging branch – sailed over the perched Donald Ross green.

“The highlight of the day was definitely on 7,” said Thresher. “I hit it right through the wind and over the green and you can’t do that. I’m not sure that I could have kept it on the green, but luckily I hit a huge flop shot and it rolled out perfectly, hit the flagstick and went right down.”

The complexion of the leaderboard was changing at a frenetic pace as the players made their way around the Worcester course, but when Thresher arrived that the 18th green his destiny was directly in front of him.

He made a seven-foot birdie putt that earned him a place in a two-man playoff with Mark Stevens, who was the clubhouse leader with a three-round score of 4-under par 206.

“On the last putt I wasn’t thinking about the championship,” said Thresher. “I was 1-over for the day and I wanted to finish every round this week even par or better. So I didn’t want the course to beat me on the last day, but it was a tricky putt.”

Thresher took an early lead in the three-hole aggregate playoff after making par to Stevens’ bogey on the first playoff hole (Worcester's 1st hole). Thresher then all but sealed himself an MGA Open victory on the very next hole (Worcester's 4th hole). He drained a 25-foot birdie putt while Stevens tapped in for bogey.

“I had about 10 feet on the same line for par in an early round and made that putt, so I thought that it was the same line the entire way,” said Thresher. “I hit it a little hard, but luckily it hit the center of the hole and went in.”

It marks his first tournament victory since he graduated from Bryant University in 2010 and he was named the Northeast Conference Men's Golfer of the Year.

“This means a lot,” said Thresher.

Mark Stevens Comes Up Just Short

Following two straight rounds of even par 70, Stevens picked a perfect time to play his best golf of the week in Worcester.

Stevens made the turn on Wednesday at 1-under par 34 and then made a charge up the leaderboard that won’t soon be forgotten.

He knocked his approaches to less than two feet on three holes – the 12th, 13th and 16th holes – for tap-in birdies which went nicely with the shot he holed in from the bunker on the 10th hole.

“I didn’t really feel great on the front nine,” said Stevens. “I was kind of steering it. I holed out a bunker shot on 10, which was a huge momentum starter. I committed to a swing thought on 12 tee and I hit some of the best shots I think I ever hit under pressure, maybe even in my life.”

Stevens was 5-under par for the competition when he approached the 18th hole. He suffered a bogey.

“I actually didn’t [have an idea of where the scores stood.],” said Stevens. “I was trying to check the standard bearers. I heard a couple of guys were at three. I was just trying to play my game. It wouldn’t have changed anything had I known, other than the fact I would have tried to make that putt a little harder.”

Despite the miss on his final hole, his three-round score of 4-under par 206 was the score to beat and it proved to be just good enough to secure him a spot in a playoff with Thresher.

Unfortunately for Stevens, he made bogey on the first playoff hole and opened the door of opportunity for Thresher.

“It was tough,” said Thresher. “I didn’t put myself in a great position in the back tier. I misread the first putt and I misread the second putt. Honestly, I didn’t deserve to two-putt. Just a little bit of lack of commitment, and I paid the price. It’s a blessing in disguise because now I am that much more motivated to be better for the next time I have the opportunity.”

Hutchins Wins The Commonwealth Cup

Although the end may be bittersweet, Matt Hutchins (Falmouth, ME) proved that he is playing the best golf of any amateur in New England.

One week after finishing T2 and as low amateur at the New England Open, Hutchins posted a three-day score of 3-under par 207 to finish T3 overall. Most importantly, however, Hutchins earned The Commonwealth Cup, which is awarded to the low amateur scorer at the MGA Open Championship.

Hutchins was in control of the event through 13 holes as he was 2-under par for the day and 5-under par for the round. It was on that 13th hole, however, when he was assessed a two-stroke penalty for improving the area of his intended stance. The violation occurred in the bunker under Rule 13-2.

Despite the setback, Hutchins was simply outstanding from start to finish. He learned of the infraction following a bogey on the 15th hole – his first of the day – and then proceded to make birdie on the 16th hole. He had a look at birdie on the 18th hole – which would have secured him a spot in the playoff – but his birdie attempt just missed the hole.

Since this event began in 1905, only five amateur competitors have been able to claim the top prize. That impressive list includes the following: Jesse Guilford - 1919 & 1929; Francis Ouimet - 1932; Don Hoenig - 1954; Kevin Johnson - 1986; and Kevin Quinn - 1999.

Winning an open championship has indeed proven difficult for even the best of amateur competitors. In the history of U.S. Open Championship, for example, only five amateurs have managed to win the Championship Proper eight times.

The last amateur to win the Massachusetts Amateur Championship was Kevin Quinn, who won the title in 1999 at Wellesley Country Club. Here is a look at the top amateur finishes dating back to 1999.

Year

Player

Score

Host Site

2016

Matt Hutchins

T3

Worcester CC

2015

Ben Spitz

T13

Black Rock CC

2014

Matt Parziale

T2

Weston GC

2013

Ben Spitz

T4

Woodland GC

2012

Chris Congdon/Tony Grillo

T10

Walpole CC

2011

Chris Congdon/Brian Higgins

T6

Oak Hill CC

2010

Mike Calef/Richy Werenski T11

Wellesley CC

2009

Matt Parziale

T2

Belmont CC

2008

Mike Calef

T3

Stockbridge GC

2007

Bill Drohen/Brian Higgins

T11

Kernwood CC

2006

Jim Renner

5

Charles River CC

2005

Tim Acquaviva

7

Vesper CC

2004

Frank Vana, Jr.

7

Pleasant Valley CC

2003 Eric McPhail T14 Tedesco CC
2002 Frank Vana, Jr. 3 Longmeadow CC
2001 Scott Hawley/Michael Carbone T10 Mount Pleasant CC
2000 Josh Hillman T6 CC of Pittsfield
1999 Kevin Quinn 1 Wellesley CC


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quinn Right At Home During Mass Open

Over the first two days of the Massachusetts Open Championship, Fran Quinn (Wachusett CC) felt like he was at home. And his scores reflected that.

Quinn's two-day combined score of 1-over par 141 allowed him to easily make the cut for the final day of competition and saw him tied for eighth place, five strokes behind the leader when he entered play on Wednesday.

Practically playing in his backyard, Quinn - born in Worcester and currently holding membership at nearby Wachusett CC in West Boylston. – a four-mile drive north – advanced to the final round of the 107th MGA Open after shooting par the first day and 1-over par on the second day.

Despite a 20-plus year gap between MGA Open appearances, Quinn knew that this tournament was one he was not going to miss.

The 1990 Mass Open champion Quinn said, "It was reasonable to my schedule. Being Worcester Country Club, I definitely was playing. I wasn't going to skip it."

Following his 1-under par 69 performance on Wednesday that saw him finish tied for sixth place with an even-par 210 for the three-day tournament, Quinn could have found an excuse for his play. That would be explainable for someone going on 24 straight days of golf.

But the 51 year old, playing in front of family and friends, would have none of that.

"Of course I was tired, but I played very well the first two days and I played good the last day," said Quinn. "I had a bad nine holes, I made a couple bad decisions. Making the eight. Bogeying 16. You don't get those back in 54 hole [play]."

Coming off a 12th place finish over the weekend at the 2016 Constellation Senior Players Championship, held at the Wissahickon Golf Course in Flourtown, Penn., Quinn was most excited to be back home, playing in a tournament that allowed him to sleep in his own bed at night - something that he didn't remember doing since 1998.

"It's fantastic. It does [bring me back to my younger days]. The MGA does a phenomenal job hosting the event. Worcester Country Club did a great job hosting the event. It was a lot of fun coming back to play."

Additionally, the MGA Open provided a test for Quinn that will guide him going forward for his next event, scheduled for next week in Wisconsin.

"The conditions were fantastic. The conditions here, with the wind, the way the course was set up, it was a fantastic test. It was a tough test. [The greens and the fairways] were firm. They were fast in spots. They were really hard."

While Quinn has a whole six days off before his next competitive play, they'll be no slowing down.

With a high school graduation party for his son and caddie Owen scheduled for Friday, Quinn will be quote, "Shopping and doing the honey-do list" to make sure everything is all set for that.

After finishing among the top eight players in a field of 150 qualifiers, it's safe to say that a quick break to celebrate his son is well deserved.  

The Round of the Day

The competitive course record at Worcester was in jeopardy on Wednesday as Joe Leavitt (Atkinson, NH) was putting together the low round of the MGA Open. Leavitt made birdie on four of his first six holes and was 4-under par through his first nine holes.

A bogey on the 12th hole was followed by two more birdies – on the 14th and 17th holes – to give Leavitt a final round score of 5-under par 65. It was the lowest round posted at Worcester this week and it was also just one shy of the competitive course record at Worcester which is 64.

That score of 64 is a mark that was originally set by Ed Martin at the 1953 MGA Open Championship and then matched by Fran Quinn, Sr. during the 1964 Invitational Tournament.

The historical records note that Fran Quinn, Jr. posted a 62 on the Donald Ross layout during a friendly match with his uncle and longtime Worcester CC member, Bill Cosgrove.

An Experience Like No Other

During a media day that set the stage for the MGA Open Championship, Fran Quinn said the following:

"The MGA does a job like no other. I have been fortunate to play on pretty much every Tour around the world and it's always special to come back and play an MGA event. They run the golf tournament like it's a U.S. Open. They make the participants feel like it is the biggest event of our lives."

It was high praise coming from a competitor who has traveled the globe over the course of his incredible career, played the world’s best courses and competed on the grandest stages in golf.

From start to finish, the staff from both the MGA and Worcester Country Club worked hard to live up to such standards. The final day was no exception as competitors enjoyed special recognition on that final day.

As the players approached their final green, they heard their names called out from a loudspeaker.  Perched atop the patio was Mike Dowling, the longtime sportscaster for WCVB-TV, who made a special visit to Worcester to announce the name of each competitor as they approached the green. The large crowd on hand greeted each individual with cheers of appreciation for what has been an enjoyable three days of golf for competitors and spectators, alike.

Upon reaching the green, the competitors were greeted by three veterans who tended the 18th hole flagstick. The familiar MGA flag was replaced with a special American flag.

For the past three years, these veterans have made a special visit to the MGA Open Championship thanks to the support of Golf For All.

Golf For All is a non-profit organization that provides accessible golf programs for people with physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges. Bob Beach, head golf professional at Braintree Municipal Golf Course, is one of the program’s primary instructors who annually conducts free golf clinics and instruction for veterans and disabled veterans at four locations in Massachusetts and one in Rhode Island.

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